Hughson Football Preseason

Hughson survives preseason and COVID tests unbeaten, turns its full attention to archrival Escalon
Posted on 09/14/2021
W. Nutcher vs Summerville

Preseason went as well as it could for the Hughson High football team. Four games, four victories, three of them by lopsided margins. The Huskies accomplished that despite having to navigate the COVID health protocols, which led to seven players and five coaches missing Saturday’s 8-6 road win over Summerville because they were in various stages of quarantine.

 

“It wasn’t a normal week,” admitted Hughson Coach Shawn King. “It’s tough, but everybody’s going through it.”

 

The Summerville game was delayed a day because the Bears had their own issues with COVID. Their previous game against Waterford scheduled for Sept. 3 had been pushed back until Sept. 7, causing the change against Hughson.

 

Despite being short-handed on the field and on the sideline, the Huskies scraped by, once again relaying on senior running back Will Nutcher to carry the load. He tied the game at 6-6 in the third quarter with a short touchdown run, then powered in for the two-point conversion that proved to be the difference. Hughson had to go for two because both its kickers were in quarantine, King said.

 

In four games, Nutcher has rumbled for 483 yards and nine touchdowns, picking up right where he left off in the spring, when the Huskies went 5-0 in the COVID-delayed season from the fall of 2020.

 

For those who are counting, that makes nine consecutive victories for Hughson and positions the Huskies as one of the favorites as the Trans-Valley League schedule begins this week. And as fate would have, who is the team standing in Hughson’s way of making it 10 wins in a row?

 

Escalon.

 

The purple-clad Cougars have been a nightmare for the Huskies’ players and fans for more than two decades. According to MaxPreps records that go back to 2004, Escalon has beaten Hughson in every game but one – a 28-14 Hughson road victory in 2015. King has been told Hughson’s futility at home against Escalon stretches even longer, possibly to 1995.

 

“Escalon has been Hughson’s rival forever, but I don’t think they look at us the same way,” said King, admitting that “Escalon week” always adds a special dimension to the game, at least for Hughson.

 

“Intensity will be up at practice this week,” he said. “It’s a big game for alums and everyone. There’s always a lot of chatter. I was mowing my lawn a few weeks ago and a couple of alums talked to me about Escalon. They let me know that they dominated Escalon in the ’90s.”

 

Escalon (3-1) is coming off a rough game last Friday against Kimball. The Cougars were pummeled at home, 54-14, in front of a crowd that including King and some of his players, who were about to do some in-person scouting because their game against Summerville had been moved to Saturday.

 

“What I saw was the same old Escalon,” King said. “They’re tough. They don’t quit. They will run the Wing-T offense, but this year they’ve shown they want to throw it more than they want to run it.”

 

King said the Wing-T relies on misdirection – “there’s a lot of smoke and mirrors” -- which puts pressure on the team’s defensive line and particularly its two inside linebackers, Ethan Jones and Haidyn Herrin.

 

“We feel good about those guys,” King said. “They’ve grown up playing against that offense.”

 

Hughson expects to have most of its players and coaches back in time for Friday’s game. Practice this week will be as normal as possible, even as King acknowledges that the days leading up to the Escalon game always seem to last longer.

 

“I’m already feeling it today,” King said of the anticipation that comes during Escalon week. “We want to make sure we’re putting our boys in the best position to be successful. Saturday, we were depleted. This week, we have to do a better job preparing.”

 

Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Husky Stadium.

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